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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in social emotional learning

Posted by on in Early Childhood

I’ve come to use “flat-out” to describe what others may call “bossy,” simply because it’s not as derogatory or stereotypical. True, there are little girls who live up to the stereotype and are not pleasant to be around. But, for the most part, the rest have a spunk that’s better off being channeled than stifled.

Little girls with grit are often criticized for being b*tchy or bossy at a young age. At the same time, strong-minded little boys are considered leaders, with an admirable amount of confidence.

pumpkins children www.wall321.com 49

In today’s world, confidence and moxie are qualities that are just as important for girls. When we take a look at the strong women who have made a difference in how our gender is perceived and respected, it is clear the days of standing back and taking whatever’s hurled our way are over. Yet, we feel compelled to look a little girl in the eye and tell her to stand down and be nice.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

I was excited to read Peter Gray’s blog post about the importance of reading stories to young children. This practice has been singled out, with good reason, to be crucial to future literacy. There is more to story reading than cuddles and close relationships, he writes, though these are essential for human growth and development, not to mention human joy!

“Knowing how to deal with evil as well as love, how to recognize others’ desires and needs, how to behave towards others so as to retain their friendship, and how to earn the respect of the larger society are among the most important skills we all must develop for a life.”  These skills are actually something we learn all through life, but giving children stories to reflect on gives them a huge advantage, psychologically, as an early start on braving human relationships, and fostering skillful interactions. Dare I say, also, that stories help children learn to be wise rather than right, as in, “right, not wrong”? Our current political discourse would benefit from wisdom rather than from arguing positions of “rightness” as is currently the case.

Surprisingly, one book that became a favorite with a group of pre-k students last year, and demonstrated the difference between wisdom and “might makes right”, was The Cloud Spinner, by Michael Catchpool and Alison Jay. This entrancing story starts out, “There was once a boy who could weave cloth from the clouds”. The boy sings as he works: “Enough is enough and not one stitch more”. Immediately, Alison Jay’s illustrations captivated our children. The hills and houses reflect the moods of the characters. Our preschoolers noticed this before I did! Smiles on hills are made of trees and sheep. Houses smile with windows and doors. In the beginning, nature is in harmony because the boy with his magical loom only makes what he needs. One day, the king notices the boy in a crowd and madly desires clothing, of both himself and his family, made of the clouds. He commands the boy to weave for him. The boy balks at first: “It would not be wise to have (so much fabric) made from this cloth. Your majesty does not need it.” The king is apoplectic, commanding the boy do his bidding. So he does. He weaves, and the illustrations reflect the sadness of the task with darkening color and forlorn hills.

The Cloud Spinner does not so much have a cheerful ending as a wise and uplifting one. Our children were absorbed in noticing details of the varying shades of color that reflect the boy’s, and the King’s daughter’s moods (She helps him to reverse the tragic disappearance of clouds that cause drought and discontent among the people). The King and his family are astounded by the gratitude of the people, after the clothing ordered is turned back into clouds, causing welcome rain. The boy and princess exult in the restoration of a wise order in nature and among humans. Our children, sitting before me, sigh in contentment.

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Posted by on in General

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Daddy how do you get bad thoughts out of your head?

When my daughter first whispered these words I thought I had a suitable response. I told her just to think about something that makes her happy. Sometimes that strategy works for me. But not often. After about a minute she said Daddy, it’s not working.

This time I tried to give her some ideas. Maybe that was all she needed. At least that was my hope. I never like it when my little girl, who’s not so little anymore, is sad. Once again though, my advice failed.

My wife and son had already fallen asleep. But I know what it feels like to worry and I know what it feels like when you can’t get your thoughts the way you want them. And simply trying to think happy thoughts is just a temporary fix. I should have remembered that.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

Last winter and Spring, I had the privilege of piloting my EQ program in a North Jersey preschool.  The pilot is a great success and we have begun our 2nd year.  Teachers love it, the children love being Creators of Joy (CJs). They could recite CJs 7 voices and how they made them feel, for ex. happy, good, kind.  I love visiting every two weeks and the picture you see is our Rainbow Rootie day when we all looked silly!  When I visit, I demonstrate the different aspects of the theme they are teaching for that week.  I learn as much as they do. The children love all of CJs buddies and continuously talk about them.

Research tells us that the emotional brain is growing the fastest from birth to six.  This certainly was evident for the younger children ( 3 year olds) were able to focus on CJ and how the voices felt more easily than the older children.  What a surprise!  They had less academics (left brain stimulation) and were more open to the messages and feelings and using CJ in their play.  So the earlier we start, the better!

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The teachers asked for more time in their curriculum for CJ. This Fall they began this and are including more of the fun activities in the curriculum.  The activities all included history, science and inter-relational opportunities.  However, the trend in preschool is academics and yet the staff felt that they needed more time for these important skills. 

Research is showing us that children who have more play and social and emotional learning instead of the current trend in academics actually pull ahead by the time they reach 4th grade. Play teaches those important skills of sharing, compromise, critical thinking to name a few.

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Posted by on in Early Childhood

bad table manners

I had a couple encounters recently that really got me thinking about how we are teaching social skills to young children- or not. I was visiting a couple of my students at their child care programs, which I sometimes do, prior to their formal CDA observations.

The first visit was in a 2’s room, with eight children and two teachers. I arrived just before lunch and watched as hands and tables were washed and children were placed into those built-in bucket seats. The kitchen had delivered portion compartment trays with some kind of meat casserole, fruit, and vegetables. What happened next literally took my breath away.

Both teachers began bringing the trays over to the two tables. No eating utensils were evident. As each tray was set in front of a child, the teacher flipped it over, banged the contents onto the table, and placed the empty tray back on the cart. Huh? Gasp!

Messy Eating Fatherly

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